How do I work the USGS streamflow site... Seriously - Mountain Buzz

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Old 03-31-2013   #1
Renaissance Redneck
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Huson, Montana
Paddling Since: 1988
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How do I work the USGS streamflow site... Seriously


I want to see a graph that shows the historical average flow of a river by month for a full year.
Thats all.
Months on the bottom, Jan - Dec and CFS up the side with a line...
Simple Right?!!!
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"You're gonna be doin a lot of doobie rolling when youre LIVIN IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER"
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Old 03-31-2013   #2
Fort Collins, Colorado
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Logical request, but.....

It would be cool to be able to get a graph like that, but as far as I know all you can get are numbers in a chart.

I find the streamflow site very useful, but you really have to play with it, and learn how to use it. It is not really a user friendly site. There is a lot of capability there, one of the reasons that it is not user friendly. For example, you can get day by day flow for any year or series of years. I have spent a lot of time playing with the site, looking at the data different ways.

I am an engineer, so wading through piles of numbers is a normal activity for me. I agree that a graph is easier and faster to read. The info you need is there, but you have to work to get it, and then work again to analyze it. I guess I see the glass half full, not half empty, and focus on the available information.

If there are cool graphical tools, I would love to know about it. Maybe somebody has a script that takes tabular data, (or tab-limited data), manipulates it, and puts out a graph. I am not that much of a computer jock, so to write that script is probably beyond my skill set.

Perhaps the coolest graph would be something that would plot daily flow for multiple selected years on the same chart, so you could visually compare different years and different months. Maybe add the ability to include some smoothing of the charts.

Let's see what folks have to say.

Open boater.
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Old 03-31-2013   #3
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Evergreen, Colorado
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I think you just choose monthly statistics then put something like " 09/1985 09/2012 in the date boxes
Pool and a pond... Pond be good for you.
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Old 04-01-2013   #4
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Bellevue, Idaho
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As in 12 data points representing the average flow for the month? CFS on the left and the 12 points shown bar graph style across the months?

I have messed with a lot of historical flows on there but never tried this.

Maybe they don't do it.
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Old 04-01-2013   #5
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New Castle, Colorado
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I find this one quite useful for the Colorado River basin:


-and fun to play with!

I get there from selecting a station from this map:

CBRFC Conditions Map

Not sure about other basins but I would think something similar would exist.
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Old 04-01-2013   #6
Denver, Colorado
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I typically export data from USGS, DWR etc, dump it in excel and go from there if the option I want is not part of the website. They definitely have average flow by day, dump it in excel and average it by month.
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Old 04-01-2013   #7
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Charleston, West Virginny
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#1 Go to the site of the gauge you are interested in.

#2 Near the top there is a drop-down box that says "Available data for this site" and choose > "Time series: Monthly statistics"

#3 in the resulting page/Parameters box check the box next to "Cubic foot discharge"

#4 Enter the date range you want below that

#5 Below that just make sure the radio button for "Table of monthly mean" is checked

#6 Submit

#7 The result is a text chart> Drag your cursor across JUST THE NUMBERS, YEARS AND MONTHS YOU WANT so they are highlighted in blue(I often leave out the years for a cleaner graph)

#8 While they are still hilighted hit ctrl and C at the same time (or right click and select> copy)

#9 Open excel and click in a cell. Hit ctrl and V at the same time (or right click and select> paste)

#10 Now in excel select all the months and cfs readings by dragging your cursor across them all

#11 Hit the "Insert tab" and you will see a little line graph that says "Line" under it. Hit that button, choose the style of graph you want

#12 Sit back and read your awesome chart and amaze your friends
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Old 04-01-2013   #8
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Many gauges came back online today, but look carefully before running out the door. Many have not been re-calibrated yet and are not giving accurate readings.

EX. The below Granite gauge on the Ark

currently it shows 116, but the last physical measurement a few days ago showed 80. I was on it yesterday and there is not 100 cfs in the rio.....
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Old 04-01-2013   #9
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I was speaking with someone who works for USGS on the data flow that we use and she said these are not going to be as up to date do to budget cuts and the sequestration.

With cuts being made the government looks at these gauges and programs as extra fluff to easily cut, so when a battery dies or it is iced over they will not have the resources to send people out to get them back online.

So if you like these gauges please write your local congressman and explain to them that the USGS stream gauges are a very important part of your boating world and you travel to towns with accurate gauges to boat and spend money.
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Old 04-01-2013   #10
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Apr 2013
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Here is how to build a discharge graph using the USGS website:

1) open the site you're interested in
2) click on "Summary of all availbel data for this site"---this is just below the parameter box at the top of the page
3) select daily data from the available data
4) select "graph" as the output format and enter the Begin and End dates on the left. Note that the pop-up calander feature does not work (at least with explorer) you must enter the date range manually.
5) press go and enjoy
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